No Charges Filed Against Father-In-Law After Shooting Death
A Fort Pierce man has escaped charges after prosecutors cited Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. However, the two men were related. The man who was shot was the son-in-law of the man who did the shooting. The shooter claimed that he discharged his weapon after a four-man family brawl broke out and one of the men began striking his son with a metal pipe.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff noted that the defense would likely hold up under the state’s Stand Your Ground law. Florida has one of the most aggressive Stand Your Ground laws anywhere in the country. Below, we’ll discuss what that means.
Stand Your Ground in Florida
Self-defense is called an “affirmative defense”. You essentially admit to the facts of the case while stating that the prosecution misinterpreted or neglected to consider various details that would have authorized the use of lethal force. In Florida, there are three reasons you can open fire on a person. The first involves defending yourself from lethal force. The second involves defending others from lethal force. Lastly, you can defend your property with force.
In other states, self-defense is a defense that you can present in trial. In Florida, there is a stand-your-ground hearing to determine if the prosecution is valid. The hearing takes place before the trial and the prosecution must establish that the defendant was not in fear of his own life or the life of others in order to move the case in front of a jury.
In other words, it can be very difficult for prosecutors to even get their cases in front of a jury unless they can prove an ulterior motive other than self-defense.
Duty to retreat
In other states, a person in a life-threatening situation might have a duty to retreat under the law. That means that instead of “standing their ground” they would be required to exit the situation before it erupted into a life-threatening situation. Alternatively, if they had any opportunity to escape the situation, they would be required by law to do so. This means that a person who is otherwise defending their own life could be charged with murder or manslaughter if the prosecution can establish they had an opportunity to retreat but did not.
The only alternative to these two extremes appears to be to handle every situation on a case-by-case basis which results in inconsistent standards being employed.
Suffice it to say that it can be quite difficult for prosecutors to determine what happened when a defendant claims self-defense. There are limits to when you can claim self-defense, but Florida’s rules are some of the most protective of gun rights in the country.
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Eighmie Law Firm represents the rights of those charged with crimes in Port St. Lucie. Call our Port St. Lucie criminal attorneys today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing your defense immediately.